Stick Tail Disease In African Fat-Tailed Geckos: Complete Guide

Are you a proud owner of an African Fat-Tailed Gecko? These unique reptiles are known for their docile nature, impressive coloration, and interesting behavior. However, just like any other pet, they can fall prey to various health issues. One such condition is Stick Tail Disease, which can be fatal if left untreated.

Stick Tail Disease is a common problem among African Fat-Tailed Geckos that affects the tail. It causes the tail to become thin and brittle and eventually break off from the body. If you notice this happening to your gecko, it’s crucial to act fast as it can quickly spread to other parts of its body and even lead to death in severe cases. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll take you through everything you need to know about Stick Tail Disease in African Fat-Tailed Geckos – from what it is and how it occurs to treatment options available. So let’s dive in and learn more!

Overview of African Fat-Tailed Geckos

Overview of African Fat-Tailed Geckos

African Fat-Tailed Geckos, commonly known as AFTs, are a popular pet reptile due to their docile nature and unique appearance. These geckos are native to West Africa where they live in savannas and grasslands. They can grow up to 8-10 inches long and can live for up to 20 years in captivity.

When it comes to breeding habits, AFTs are typically easy to breed in captivity. Males will often fight over females during breeding season which occurs from late spring through early summer. In terms of habitat requirements, AFTs need a warm environment with temperatures ranging from 80°F – 90°F during the day and dropping no lower than 70°F at night. They also require a humid environment with a relative humidity level of around 60%. Providing them with hiding places such as rocks or plants is also important for their well-being.

Stick Tail Disease In African Fat-Tailed Geckos

What is Stick Tail Disease?

If you’re a gecko owner, it’s important to be aware of stick tail disease. This condition can have various causes, such as poor husbandry or bacterial infections. Some common symptoms include weight loss, lethargy, and a limp tail that appears to hang lifelessly. To diagnose stick tail disease, your veterinarian may need to conduct tests such as bloodwork and fecal exams.


One possible reason for stick tail disease to rear its ugly head could be due to poor hygiene. African fat-tailed geckos require a clean and well-maintained environment to thrive. Dirty cages can cause bacterial growth, which can lead to infections that weaken the immune system of your pet gecko. In addition, overcrowding or improper handling may also contribute to the spread of this disease.

Another common cause of stick tail disease is stress. African fat-tailed geckos are sensitive creatures that need proper care and attention from their owners. Factors such as temperature fluctuations, inadequate lighting, and inappropriate diet can all create a stressful environment for your pet gecko.

To prevent stick tail disease from taking hold, you must ensure that your pet’s living conditions are suitable and comfortable for them. If you suspect that your gecko has contracted the disease despite all precautions taken, contact a veterinarian immediately who will prescribe appropriate treatment options including antibiotics if necessary.


When stick tail disease strikes, affected geckos may exhibit symptoms such as lethargy, loss of appetite, and abnormal shedding. Behavioral changes are also common in geckos suffering from this condition. They may become more reserved and less active than usual.

Another symptom to look out for is shedding abnormalities. Stick tail disease can cause geckos to have difficulty shedding their skin properly, leading to pieces of old skin remaining attached to the body. This can cause discomfort and even lead to infections if not addressed promptly. It is important for owners to monitor their gecko’s shedding patterns closely and seek veterinary care if any abnormalities arise.


To diagnose stick tail disease in your African fat-tailed gecko, you should bring them to a veterinarian who specializes in reptiles. The vet will perform a physical examination of your gecko and may conduct several diagnostic tests to determine if they have the disease. Here are some of the common diagnostic tests that can be performed:

  1. Skin scrapings – This involves taking a small sample of skin from your gecko and examining it under a microscope for signs of infection or parasites.
  2. Fecal analysis – A fecal sample is collected and examined for any parasites or other abnormalities.
  3. Blood tests – Blood samples are taken to check for any underlying health issues that may be contributing to the development of stick tail disease.
  4. X-rays or ultrasound – These imaging tests can help the vet identify any changes in the bone structure, internal organs, or tissues.

Once a diagnosis has been made, your veterinarian will discuss with you the prognosis for your gecko’s recovery from stick tail disease. In many cases, early detection and treatment can lead to a full recovery, but the severity of the disease and how quickly it was caught can impact the likelihood of recovery. It’s important to follow all recommended treatments and care instructions provided by your veterinarian to give your gecko their best chance at healing.

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Treatment Options

When it comes to treating stick tail disease in African fat-tailed geckos, there are several options available. Antibiotics may be prescribed to combat any bacterial infections that have developed. Wound care is also important to prevent further infection and promote healing. In severe cases, tail amputation may be necessary to stop the spread of the disease and ensure the gecko’s overall health.


Antibiotics can be a crucial aspect of treating stick tail disease in African fat-tailed geckos, as they help fight off bacterial infections that can exacerbate the condition. There are different types of antibiotics that can be used to treat stick tail disease, and each type has its own effectiveness against the disease. Some antibiotics that have been found to be effective against this condition include amikacin, enrofloxacin, and doxycycline.

While antibiotics may be effective in treating stick tail disease, there are also adverse effects of antibiotic treatment that should not be ignored. Overuse or misuse of antibiotics can lead to antibiotic resistance in bacteria, making it harder for these drugs to work effectively in the future.

Additionally, some geckos may experience adverse reactions such as diarrhea or loss of appetite when given antibiotics. It is important to weigh the potential benefits and risks before administering any medication to your pet. Alternative treatments such as probiotics or herbal remedies may also be considered under the guidance of a veterinarian.

Wound Care

You can help promote healing and prevent infection by regularly cleaning any wounds on your gecko’s body. It is important to keep the wound clean and dry, as moisture can increase the risk of infection. You can use a sterile saline solution or mild soap and water to gently clean the area around the wound.

In addition to cleaning, topical treatments may also be beneficial for wound healing. Antibiotic ointments such as Neosporin or Betadine can be applied to the affected area to prevent bacterial growth and promote healing. Aloe vera gel or honey can also aid in wound healing due to their anti-inflammatory properties. However, it is important to consult with a veterinarian before applying any topical treatments to ensure they are safe for your gecko and do not interfere with any other medications they may be taking.

Tail Amputation

Now that you know how to properly care for your gecko’s wounds, it’s important to discuss the possibility of tail amputation. This may seem like a drastic measure, but in cases of stick tail disease, it can be necessary for the health and well-being of your pet. Stick tail disease is a condition in which the gecko’s tail becomes limp and unable to support its weight. If left untreated, this can lead to further health issues such as infection and even death.

Tail amputation involves surgically removing the affected portion of the gecko’s tail. While this may sound scary, it is actually a common procedure with a high success rate. One thing to keep in mind is that African fat-tailed geckos have the ability to regenerate their tails, so while they may lose their original tail, they will eventually grow a new one.

However, it’s important to note that tail regeneration can take several months and may not look exactly like their original tail. It’s also worth considering the psychological impact on your pet – losing a limb can be stressful for animals just as it would be for humans. With proper care and attention during recovery, however, most geckos are able to adjust well after having their tails amputated.

Prevention Strategies

To avoid the devastating effects of stick tail disease, it’s vital to regularly clean your African fat-tailed gecko’s enclosure and provide them with a healthy diet rich in calcium. Environmental factors play a significant role in the development of this disease. Therefore, maintaining proper temperature and humidity levels is crucial. Keep their enclosure between 75-85°F during the day and around 70°F at night while maintaining humidity levels between 40-60%.

Additionally, dietary changes are essential for preventing stick tail disease. Provide your gecko with a balanced diet that includes live insects such as crickets, mealworms, superworms or dubia roaches dusted with calcium powder. Additionally, you can supplement their diet with commercial gecko feed designed specifically for African fat-tailed geckos. By following these prevention strategies closely, you can ensure your pet remains healthy and happy.

Other Health Concerns for African Fat-Tailed Geckos

You should also be aware of other health concerns that may affect your African fat-tailed gecko. One common issue is metabolic bone disease, which can occur when the gecko does not receive enough calcium or vitamin D3 in their diet. This can lead to weakened bones and even deformities if left untreated. Another concern is impaction, which occurs when the gecko ingests substrate or other foreign objects that cannot be digested. This can cause blockages in the digestive system and require medical intervention to resolve.

Metabolic Bone Disease

Unfortunately, even though African fat-tailed geckos are known for their hardiness, metabolic bone disease can still affect them and cause severe pain. This condition results from a calcium deficiency in the diet or inadequate exposure to UVB lighting. The bones of affected geckos become weak and brittle, leading to fractures and deformities.

To prevent metabolic bone disease in your African fat-tailed gecko, you should ensure that they have access to a balanced diet with sufficient calcium levels. You can offer commercial diets designed for reptiles or feed them insects such as crickets and mealworms dusted with calcium powder. Additionally, it is essential to provide adequate UVB lighting for at least 10-12 hours per day to support healthy bone density. If you suspect that your gecko has metabolic bone disease, consult with a veterinarian who specializes in reptile care immediately. Early intervention is critical in managing this painful condition.


Impaction occurs when a gecko ingests substrate or foreign objects that cannot be digested, leading to blockages in the digestive tract. This condition can cause serious health problems and even death if not treated promptly. Prevention is key when it comes to impaction, and there are several tips you can follow to minimize the risk of your African fat-tailed gecko developing this issue.

Firstly, ensure that your gecko’s enclosure has appropriate substrate. Avoid using loose substrates such as sand or gravel as these can easily be ingested by your pet. Instead, opt for solid substrates such as reptile carpet or paper towels.

Secondly, avoid feeding your gecko insects that are too large for them to handle. A good rule of thumb is to feed prey items that are no larger than the width of their head. Lastly, provide clean drinking water at all times and regularly clean and disinfect your gecko’s enclosure to prevent the buildup of bacteria and other harmful substances. By following these prevention tips and ensuring proper dietary considerations, you can help keep your African fat-tailed gecko healthy and free from impaction.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Stick Tail Disease be transmitted to other species of geckos?

Stick tail disease can be transmitted to other species of geckos, which raises the transmission risk. Treatment options include isolating infected geckos and administering antibiotics. It is important to monitor all geckos for signs of infection.

How long does it take for a gecko to show symptoms of Stick Tail Disease?

Symptom onset timeline for stick tail disease in geckos varies from a few weeks to several months. Diagnosis methods include physical examination, fecal testing, and blood work. Early detection is crucial for successful treatment.

Are there any dietary changes that can be made to prevent Stick Tail Disease?

You can prevent stick tail disease in African fat-tailed geckos by making dietary modifications. Offer a balanced diet with proper supplementation to ensure they receive adequate nutrition. This is one of the most effective preventive measures against this debilitating illness.

Can a gecko recover fully from Stick Tail Disease?

Yes, geckos can recover from stick tail disease with proper rehabilitation. However, there may be long term effects such as weakened immune systems and susceptibility to future infections. It is important to provide continuous care and monitoring for your gecko’s health.

Is there a genetic predisposition to Stick Tail Disease in African Fat-Tailed Geckos?

Oh, absolutely not. African fat-tailed geckos should definitely not be bred with the intention of passing on the genetic predisposition for stick tail disease. However, environmental factors can also play a role in its development. Treatment options and prevention strategies are available.

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